Thursday, May 15, 2008

Greetings from Ukenzagapia!

I meant to post before I left but my family was visiting and there was much to do, so I didn't Sorry readers! FYI, I definitely won't be posting as much as usual while I'm here. Today is the first day I've been able to get online with my laptop (it was much more difficult than I anticipated).

Well, there is good and bad news. The bad news is I won't be getting my permits in time to really do anything. The good news is that I can just wait and pick them up next year without paying the fees again. I found this out on Wednesday morning, so now I'm working on what to do instead. I knew this might happen, especially since the short notice I gave them, but it's still a bummer. I was getting excited about the idea of catching critters, which definitely won't happen now.

I met a Brit at the hostel who was by herself and I for some reason had a hunch that she might be here for research. My hunch was quite right. She's in a very similar situation to me, except that she hasn't even tried to get permits yet. She's in the first year of her Ph.D. and is here taking language classes and trying to get a sense of what her project will be. We had a great conversation about my situation and she suggested I join her language class. This is the first of three weeks but they haven't done much yet and since I have a bit of prior experience with this language I'm ok having missed the first few days. I went this morning and I'm planning to finish the 3-week course, then head to my field sites as a tourist.

This is the first time I've really traveled by myself for any length of time, and so far I think it's ok. The hardest part is being such a conspicuous westerner on the streets. I got totally ripped off on something I bought on the street the first day, but it could've been worse. Something like that happens to everyone so I'm not going to beat myself up about it. It's annoying to always have men trying to talk to you on the street and you don't want to be rude but you just have to. Acknowledging a greeting is like giving them permission to follow you and talk your ear off. I think I'm getting better at the "Don't even bother talking to me" walk and facial expression. I just have to act disinterested and calm. It's not like they're dangerous, they can just be annoying. Now that I have a friend to walk with it's not so lonely and we've been helping each other out since we're in remarkably similar situations. I'm also really glad to have a friend to practice my language skills with.

So, now that I'm going to be spending the next two weeks and the end of this one in language classes, I've got to figure out where I want to go this weekend since I don't really want to spend two straight weeks in the city.

Ok, this has been a jumbled post. I'll post again another day (with pictures! I decided to buy a new camera) but I'm not sure when. Stay tuned!

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